Jude Idada, a Canada-based Nigerian writer recently accused Nollywood actress/producer Omoni Oboli of stealing his movie name and script, hence stopping and cancelling the premiere of the movie ‘Okafor’s Law’, which was set to premiere last Friday; March 24 and released in cinemas March 31st. Below is what he had to say regarding the whole incident.
“I decided to speak out because I kept receiving reports that Omoni Oboli was maligning my person to people, saying I stole her story. And filmmakers in Nigeria who know the truth were incensed. They urged me to speak out and not take it lightly. I was hesitant because as at the time, I realized that it was a version of my story that had been slightly tweaked and shot, the film was already selected for the TIFF city by city showcase along seven other Nigerian films and I didn’t want whatever I said to tarnish the image of Nigeria or still the thunder of the other films.
Since a scandal on copyright issues, if I legally sought an injunction will result in the film being pulled from the Festival. This, in my opinion, was not the way of introducing Nollywood to the world. So I decided against a legal challenge at the time. But a journalist from TNS reached out to me saying that he had been informed by another filmmaker as regards the story and wanted to write about it. He wanted to confirm my side of the story he heard.
So I spoke because I didn’t want a version of hearsay out there in place of the truth. I know that whether I spoke or not, something was going to be published. So I rather the truth. That was the primary reason I spoke out. On the secondary level, I spoke because it is high time that intellectual property theft has to be dealt with in Nigeria. Contracts have to become the order of the day. Contract breaches have to be punished. There must be structure, transparency and accountability in the industry.
We are not selling tomatoes at Oshodi market, we are filmmakers and artistes, and as such our products have to be respected for the intellectual property they are. So yes, two filmmakers who are friends can work together, even work for free, but that free work has to be stated and signed contractually. You cannot just take people’s stories and scripts and go make them into films, take all the credit in a devious lie, and say you forgot to credit the original source of the story or even pay him. It is heinous and speaks to a perditious spirit.
About reaching out to Omoni Oboli before going public he said:
I did not make an attempt to reach her. As having suffered the debacle of the first experience – “Being Miss Elliot” and seeing that it was being repeated in “Okafor’s Law.” I was so deeply disappointed and pissed off that I decided to just cut them off and focus on me. I do not like drama being played out in the public and all. Will rather just walk away as I believe one story or two stories would not make me.
I believe I am a purveyor of stories and my creative well is deep. So I rather walk away than force a confrontation. As I said by the time I found out it was my film, the film had already been selected by TIFF and I figured any contact claiming an infringement will be contentious and damaging to the rare opportunities the other films had. My lawyers had wanted to initiate contact but I decided against it. And only spoke out when I was contacted by the journalist.
However, Omoni Oboli still insists the it’s her movie and script. Read what she had to say here